The CEO of a marketing software giant, two state legislators who authored the right-to-work legislation and an Indianapolis community which hosted Super Bowl XLVI and is experiencing ongoing infrastructure improvements and economic growth were honored by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce this evening at the organization’s 23rd Annual Awards Dinner.
A crowd of approximately 1,400 business, civic and political leaders attended the event at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. Famed journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein delivered the keynote speech. The awards dinner was presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield.
The 2012 Indiana Chamber honorees are: Business Leader of the Year Scott Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Indianapolis-based ExactTarget; Government Leaders of the Year Rep. Jerry Torr and Sen. Carlin Yoder; and Indianapolis as Community of the Year.
Business Leader of the Year: Scott Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of ExactTarget, Indianapolis — "Scott Dorsey and ExactTarget are a shining example of Indiana’s growing technology community and what this state has to offer," says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. "Scott’s humble leadership style and business acumen, along with the desire to foster his employees and the local community, has made the company what it is today."
Though marketing software company ExactTarget is now widely known, it began like any other technology startup – with hard work and support from family and friends – when Dorsey, his brother-in-law Chris Baggott and another partner, Peter McCormick, launched the company in 2000.
"The Internet bubble had burst; money was not flowing into Internet companies," Dorsey contends. "We were three entrepreneurs with no software experience. The capital raising process was really difficult. We went down the friends and family route. It was great, but a little unconventional."
While Dorsey recalls that the early years of the company were "bootstrapped," with the three founders working without salaries for most of the first year in business, ExactTarget has grown to over 1,300 employees in five countries, with just under 1,000 employees in Indiana alone.
"How do you build and manage a global business? That’s a big challenge, especially when you move into markets that are non-English speaking, like we have in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Managing life as a public company is very different too (the company launched an initial public offering in March), but exciting. The expectations and pressures of Wall Street are very different — and very time consuming — to communicate and build relationships with all those key constituents," Dorsey offers.
Dorsey grew up in Naperville, Illinois, and graduated from Indiana University with a degree in marketing before earning an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He also has worked in various sales positions for Divine, Inc.; Metro; and Steelcase, Inc.
Family ties brought ExactTarget’s headquarters to Indianapolis, but Dorsey admits that the Circle City has proven itself as the right place to be for a growing technology company.
"The support we received from the tech community was extraordinary. As we’ve grown, Indianapolis has become a big competitive advantage for us: the low cost of operation, amazing support from the city and state, great universities we’re able to recruit from and a very loyal employee base with good values and a great work ethic," Dorsey declares.
To give back to the local community, Dorsey and his team created a grassroots organization, ExactImpact (focused on assisting area charities), and the newly-established ExactTarget Foundation.
Dorsey also serves on the board of directors for TechPoint, Indiana Sports Corporation and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Informatics at Indiana University. He also served as chair for the marketing and communications division for the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.